Claire

angry woman face

Claire looked around her.  Her parents sat on the settee opposite and her
brother sat beside her.  The TV was tuned to a soap opera, but no one
seemed to be watching.  She stood up and moved to change the channel, the
remote long-since lost.  The others turned their heads to follow her progress.
Selecting another arbitrary channel, she sat back down.

She turned to look at her brother, who had turned back to the TV.
“Nothing to say?”  He continued to stare ahead.  “Nothing?  Nothing?” She
stood up and walked to the centre of the room.  Looking through the open
door, she saw her grandmother sitting at the kitchen table.   “What about you,
granny?”  Her grandmother turned to face her, but made no reply.

Claire walked to the window and looked out at the street.  People seemed
to be going about their lives, just as they should.  Dogs barked, cars honked
their horns and children played.  Claire turned back to the room.  “Can’t one
of you say anything?  Please?”  She screamed the last, but it fell on deaf
ears.  Her family sat where they were, hands in their laps, staring at the TV.

“I know what you want, but I can’t give it to you.  You expect me to say
sorry, but I’m not.  Not sorry at all.”  For all of her thirty years, Claire now
sounded like a petulant teenager.  “This silent treatment is doing my bloody
head in!”  She grabbed the sides of her head to make the point.  “Say
something.  Shout at me!  Tell me I’m being stupid!  Anything!”  There was no
reaction.

Claire sat back down and wiped away the tears that had begun to fall.  She
produced a tissue from up her sleeve and blew her nose.  Replacing the
tissue, she turned to face her family once more.  “OK.  I’ll tell you why I’m not
sorry.”  She turned to her father and pointed at him.  “You know exactly what
you did.  I was young and you knew it wasn’t right.  How could you do that to
me?”  She began crying and reached for the tissue again.  Choking back the
tears, she continued.  “I know it’s a long time ago and I should just let it go.
But I can’t.  To me it was yesterday.  Yesterday!”  She jabbed a finger down
hard onto her thigh as she screamed the last.

Claire sat back in the chair and put her hands over her face.  After a
moment, she sat up and turned to her mum.  “And you,” she jabbed out the
finger again, “you knew.  You knew exactly what was happening and you just
let it happen.”  She stopped to wipe her nose again.  “Nothing to say?  You
should be ashamed of yourselves.”  She cast a sweeping gaze across the
room, taking them all in.

“Don’t think I don’t know your part, granny!”  Turning her head to the door,
she continued.  “Your own son.  How could you not know?”  Once more, she
turned back to her brother.  “Matt, I thought I could trust you.  You’re my big
brother, you’re supposed to look after me!”  Only inches from his face, she
spat as she spoke.  “You saw him doing those things to me and you chose to
say nothing.  To protect yourself.  Well, who protected me?”

She looked at the whole family, who now turned to look at her.  Their eyes
were empty, vacant.  Claire hated this as much as the long silences.  She
took a breath and sighed deeply.  Looking up at each one individually, she
knew that no one would say anything.  They never did.  Even after all this
time had passed, no one would say anything.  Two years of this had been
enough.

“I will not say sorry.”  She stood facing the group and stamped her foot. “I
should have killed you all sooner!”  She left the room, slamming the door, but
knew they would all be there in the morning.  Just waiting.

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